Brian Feldman explains why Twitter's decision to kill the Vine looping video service makes the internet worse.
The point of Vine was never to generate the next Fellini. It was to have dumb, stupid free play on an internet increasingly hostile to that kind of freedom, whether because of surveillance or heavy-handed advertiser presence or trolls. The lack of adult supervision or corporate culture may have made it somewhat impenetrable, but it also made it feel free in a way no other social network really does.
Vine also had what Silicon Valley types describe as a poor "culture fit."
Vine wasn’t just dominated by teenagers — it was dominated by teenagers of color. Especially black teens, who created a disproportionate number of popular Vines and used the social network to demonstrate wit, intelligence, creativity, and comic timing that was rarely given a spotlight elsewhere.
Twitter's decision to kill it is being felt as deep pain on the web. Twitter itself is worse than unpleasant: it's the oxygen keeping the internet on fire, feeding trolls, harassers and white supremacists. Vine, on the other hand, was adorable, funny, impervious to the hate and great because "there were no brands or grown ups or neonazis to ruin it."
But business is interested in at least two of those three things.
People often wonder why Twitter, more than other major social networks, is having so much difficulty figuring out ways to combat abuse. It is already far from a free-speech environment, after all, offering private intellectual property enforcement and (at least in a few cases) region-specific political censorship.
I don't know much about business, but I always get the impression that Twitter sees its flatness and the abuse it engenders as an energy efficiency problem. A reaction to be brought under control, not vented. What if we could create an environment where bigotry and abuse are harmless?
This is the sort of thinking that "trolls" are eager to exploit. Twitter doesn't realize that one of the constants in its formula—the social acceptability of bigotry and abuse—is a variable.
My favorite vine: